Friday, July 6, 2012

4th of July: My Favorite Day on the Lake

After the parade in LO.

  If ever you're to spend a day in Lake Oswego, Oregon, may I suggest the Fourth of July? While there might be better, more-extravagant, celebrations and events throughout the country. For me, there's no better day to be in my hometown than on our nation's Independence Day.   

  The 4th of July, is by far my favorite day of the summer. It's where I get the best of every world. Family. Fun. Celebration. Fireworks. Great food. And usually, great weather. All under a beautiful backdrop. I couldn't ask for more.

The parade getting underway.
  It's one day where the city of Lake Oswego really goes all-out. And the celebration of America's independence is as good an excuse as any for an all-day party.

Stella and Sadie looking on.
  This year, my family's day started bright and early (for holiday standards, anyway). At 10AM, the Star Spangled Parade was to get underway in Downtown Lake Oswego. So I ran the 4+ miles down to 3rd and A Avenue to meet my mom, and reserve some seats along the parade route. My brother and his family, who were making the two-hour drive up from the Eugene area, were joining us for the parade.

  During the hour wait for the parade to start, I quickly realized I wasn't cut-out for the world of parades. There are some loud and pushy people in that world! But once my nieces arrived, and the parade got underway, all was forgotten.

  We waved at the floats, cars, unicyclers, dogs, and anything else decked out in red, white and blue that passed by. The paraders threw candy to the crowd lining the streets, so Stella, Sadie, and Sofie had fun trying to collect as many pieces of candy as they could. (And, in turn, eat it all up before auntie had a chance to pick out her favorites.)

Sofie loved the fountain!
  The parade dispersed, and we headed for Millennium Plaza Park. On Saturdays during the summer, there's a wonderful Farmer's Market held in the park. And on the 4th, a smaller market with booths, games, and a band was set up for the afternoon. But we had our sights set on the water fountain.

  My nieces ran in and out of the fountain with huge smiles on their faces, while we soaked up some sun and were entertained by the shenanigans of laughing/screaming kids in the water.

  There's also a Pancake Breakfast put on by the Lake Oswego Lions Club throughout the morning at nearby George Rogers Park, but my family and I have yet to participate. Maybe next year.

  My parents are fortunate enough to live in an old house on beautiful lakefront property. So given the days' events in Lake Oswego, we have a 4th of July BBQ with our extended family each and every year.

Part of Millennium Park.
  Once we had gotten our fill of the water fountain at Millennium Park, we returned to the house to finish prepping for the BBQ, and the arrival of the rest of the family!

  I had a cake to finish decorating (that Sadie and Stella helped put the finishing touches on), and wiener wraps to bake (homemade whole wheat dough with organic hot dogs!).

  As my aunt and uncle, Nana, cousins, other nieces (and nephew) and family members trickled in, we enjoyed the weather and the view outside (and yummy appetizers on the patio). I was entertained by my littlest niece, Sofie, while her sisters, Stella and Sadie went out onto the boat.

Hanging out with Sofie.
  Stella, who is eight, had made it known earlier this summer that she wanted to go inner-tubing for the first time. So even though the 4th is probably the busiest boating day on the lake of the year, she was determined to get out there.

  The lake is a long and skinny body of water, about seven miles around. With all the traffic at once, the water gets choppy, and the ride not-so-smooth. It makes for an interesting time on water skis, or on an inner-tube. But Stella kept her word, and was out there inner-tubing with the best of them!

  Earlier in the day, those on the lake can also take part in a boat parade. Families decorate their boats, and join-in with the rest of the community for a celebratory ride around the lake.

Stella inner-tubing for the first time!
  My family has only boat paraded once, and that was several years ago. That parade turned into a glorified water fight, which we came unprepared for. Even though we couldn't take part in the water fight, we had a pretty good time!

  I've been told the organizers have reiterated that it is not a water fight, but I'm curious to know if they have been successful in keeping the water cannons and water balloons away.

  It was finally dinner time, and we enjoyed quite a spread: ribs, steak, chicken, wiener wraps, potato salad, three bean salad, baked beans...you know, the usual belly ache inducing BBQ fare!

  We killed the few hours' wait til the fireworks on the lake were to start by visiting on the patio, and enjoying the chocolate flag cake for dessert.Yum yum!

Birthday cake for the US, and for my mom!
  Once dusk hits, the people on the lake usually head back out on their boats for a firework display on the water. The Lake Corporation positions a barge towards the west end of the lake, and sets fireworks off.

  As you wait for the official firework show to start, it's always fun sitting on the lake watching everything going on around you. Neighbors are also shooting off their own fireworks, or have bands playing. It's also interesting watching the ducks and birds (and bats) trying to figure out what this invasion is all about, and when their normally-peaceful habitat will be returned to them.

Waiting for the official firework show to start!
  10PM, and the fireworks start! You've found your spot on the boat, and settle in to watch. The Lake Corporation puts on a 20-25 minute show, and it never disappoints. There always seems to be one new 'firework' from the previous year that makes you ooooh and ahhhhh a little more.

Fireworks over the water.
  Once we've all said our goodbyes, the cleanup can begin. The aftermath is something like Christmas morning. Except instead of torn up wrapping paper, there are dirty dishes, empty cans, and remaining food everywhere you turn. It's late, and you're tired. A quick cleanup, then try to unwind and get some rest.

  For some, the party continues all night. This year, I woke up to a series of 4AM fireworks. The Fourth of July is truly a day where the people of Lake Oswego go all out.

  If you've ever been to the Portland area, you know all about the beautiful scenery: the rivers, the lakes, the mountains, how green it stays year-round. Unfortunately, to get those beautiful shades of green, we get (more than) our fair share of rain. The 4th of July kicks off summer for Portlanders, weather-wise, so that is another reason I look forward to Independence Day! Since I've been home, I have been not-so-patiently waiting for the sunny weather to become the norm, rather than the exception. :)

Fireworks!
  The 4th of July also signals roughly the midway point of my off-season. And maybe serves as a pause for me: as I go from focusing on helping my parents prep for their big celebratory BBQ (before the 4th), to bringing my training (and summer travel) to the forefront (after the 4th). Regardless, I'll thoroughly enjoy the second half of my off-season!

    Since my family moved to the lake, I think I've only missed one (maybe two) 4th of Julys. For me, nothing can measure up. It is a day in Lake Oswego that I refuse to miss!
 

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